Hello, this is _hiroyuki.ta.
This time, I took a motorcycle tour from Tokyo to Ouchi-juku! Ouchi-juku is a historic tourist destination located in Shimogo-cho, Minamiaizu-gun, Fukushima Prefecture, which is a post town from the Edo period that has remained intact.
It is home to more than 30 thatched-roof houses and has been designated as a nationally important preservation district for groups of traditional buildings.
While introducing the charm of Ouchi-juku, I will also tell you about the route I took and information about the motorcycle parking lot.
Route to Ouchi-juku
I set out from central Tokyo on my beloved Harley-Davidson FLSB Sport Glide.
First, take the Mukojima Line/Shuto Expressway 6/Route 6 from Shin-Ohashi Dori/Tokyo Route 50 and Hakozaki IC.
Take the Kawaguchi Line/S1 from Shuto Expressway No. 6 and get on the Tohoku Expressway. From here, drive for about 200km to Shirakawa IC.
If you want to take a break or refuel on the way, use the service area or parking area.
Exit the Tohoku Expressway at Shirakawa IC and enter National Route 4. From here, continue along National Route 289 and National Route 121 to Ouchi, Shimogo Town. This section is about 50km, but the scenery of the mountains and countryside is beautiful and pleasant. However, there are many curves and slopes, so please drive safely.
Highlights of Ouchi-juku
When you arrive at Ouchi-juku, what catches your eye is a townscape lined with neatly lined old houses with thatched roofs.
This townscape flourished as a post town on the Aizu Nishi Kaido road connecting Aizu and Nikko during the Edo period, and has remained that way since the Meiji era. Today, it has been renovated into a souvenir shop and restaurant for tourists and local residents, but the original atmosphere remains the same.
Enjoy Ouchi-juku’s famous gourmet food while strolling through the streets.
The most famous one is “Negisoba”. This soba is eaten using green onions as chopsticks, and is made with 100% locally produced buckwheat flour. It’s spicy when you bite into green onions on their own, but when you eat them with soba, they go surprisingly well. I ate Negi Soba at Misawa-ya Chaya, but there are other soba restaurants such as Takato Soba and Kurumi Soba.
Another famous gourmet dish is “warisen”. This rice cracker is made by grilling it over charcoal, then splitting it and soaking it in a secret soy sauce sauce. In addition to dipping once or twice in soy sauce, there are other flavors such as sauce, plum bonito, chili pepper, garlic, and grains. I bought and ate warisen at Yamagataya, but they are also sold at other places such as Bunke Tamaya and Daikokuya.
Chirimen is a famous specialty of Ouchi-juku. These are traditional crafts from Fukushima Prefecture, including local toys such as akabeko and awari-koboshi, as well as miscellaneous goods with motifs of vegetables, fruits, animals, etc. The gentle colors and soft texture unique to chirimen are attractive.
If you pass through the large torii gate near the center of the cityscape, you will find Takakura Shrine. This shrine is dedicated to King Mochihito (Takakuranomiya), the third son of the 77th Emperor Goshirakawa, and it is said that the name “Ouchi” was given to him by King Mochihito. There is a legend that King Mochihito fled to this area and went into hiding after failing to hunt down the Heike clan. From the shrine, you can see the countryside and mountains.
From the Koyasu Kannon-do Observatory on the north side of the street, you can see the entire Ouchi-juku area. If you climb the stairs to the observation deck, you can get a panoramic view of the thatched-roofed building. Although it is smaller in scale than the gassho-style villages such as Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, it is still a sight that gives you a taste of the Edo period.
Ouchi-juku motorcycle parking lot
Ouchi-juku has a free bicycle parking lot for motorcycles.
This is located about 700m south of the paid parking lot/temporary parking lot along Prefectural Route 131. It takes about 10 minutes to walk to Ouchi-juku, but if you are going by bike, you have no choice but to park here.
Paid and free parking lots in the surrounding area are for four-wheelers only and do not accept motorcycles.
I parked my bike in this bike parking lot, but it was quite crowded.
Especially during peak season or on weekends, there may not be any spaces available unless you go early.
This time, I took a motorcycle tour from Tokyo to Ouchi-juku.
Ouchi-juku is a historic tourist destination that retains the atmosphere of an Edo-period post town, where you can enjoy local gourmet foods such as green onion soba and warisen, as well as specialty products such as chirimen.
You can also see the cityscape of Ouchi-juku and the surrounding nature from Takakura Shrine and Koyasu Kannon-do. The bicycle parking lot is located a little far from Ouchi-juku, but you can use it for free.
Through this tour, I was able to experience Japanese traditional culture and history. When you ride a bike, you get a feel for the scenery and climate along the way, which doubles the fun of your trip.
If you have a chance to go to Ouchi-juku by bike, please use this as a reference.